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Florida House to roll out election changes

Limits on ballot drop boxes and other changes to voting rules are being debated by the Florida Legislature.
Limits on ballot drop boxes and other changes to voting rules are being debated by the Florida Legislature.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A House committee Monday will take up a wide-ranging bill about the state’s election laws, including maintaining the use of drop boxes for mail-in ballots and requiring Floridians to more frequently request such ballots.

The bill (PCB PIE 21-05) will be considered by the House Public Integrity and Elections Committee after a Senate elections bill (SB 90) has drawn heavy controversy -- in part because it would ban drop boxes. While maintaining drop boxes, the House bill would place new requirements that House leaders say are aimed at boosting security. Under the proposal, drop boxes would be allowed at county supervisor of elections offices but would have to be monitored by office employees or law-enforcement officers during regular working hours.

After hours, the boxes would have to be monitored by video surveillance, with recordings available to political candidates and parties. Drop boxes at other locations would only be allowed during early voting hours and would have to be monitored by elections workers or law-enforcement officers. Among other things, the bill would change a law that allows voters’ requests for mail-in ballots to be active for two general elections, which occur every two years.

Under the bill, the requests would only be active for one election cycle -- effectively meaning that voters would have to request the ballots more often. An exception would be made for ballots requested before July 1.

“By all accounts, Florida’s elections last year ran smoothly, and we’re looking to improve on our successes,” House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, said in a prepared statement. “Florida has come a long way since the 2000 election cycle. Our progress is a result of consistent work to ensure that our elections processes are the best in the nation --  we cannot stop now. This (bill) will ensure Florida’s ballots remain secure, the election process remains transparent, and that access is maintained for all eligible voters who want to vote.”